It wasn’t slated as a public meeting as initially announced, but the Scioto County Children Services Board were to meet Wednesday evening in a closed-door session presumably to discuss the situation surrounding the now well-publicized death of young Dylan Groves.
Last week, Children Services Board Chairman Al Oliver said the board planned a public meeting for some time July 17 to include representatives of the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office. Oliver also intended to invite the Scioto County Board of Commissioners.
According to County Commissioner Bryan Davis the notion of a public meeting changed Monday for reasons unclear to him. He added commissioners were “not excited” about the meeting not being public.
Under Ohio’s Sunshine Law, whenever a majority of a publicly elected board meets, that meeting is automatically open to the public and, of course, the media. In this instance, holding a private meeting, prevented all but one of the county commissioners, namely Davis, from attending. Davis added he planned to attend the meeting in his role as vice chair of the county board as Chairman Michael Crabtree is out of town on business.
Oliver did not respond to a voicemail request for comment Thursday. Children Services Director Lorra Fuller said the number of children services board members present would be no more than five.
As the group expends public funds, as with publicly elected boards, any meeting including a majority of board members automatically is public under state law. Fuller said other invitees to the meeting were to include a representative from the sheriff’s and county prosecutor’s offices, along with Scioto County Court of Common Pleas, probate/children’s division Judge Alan Lemons. A children services legal representative also was to attend.
Fuller said the idea of holding a closed meeting was to allow a more open, unfettered discussion among the various officials. She specifically noted the children services board holds monthly meetings routinely open to the public and including a public comment session.
For his part, Davis decried the lack of an agenda for the meeting, stating it seemed difficult to prepare for the session without fully understanding the purpose of the meeting.
“I want to go into it with a positive attitude hoping that something worthwhile comes out of this,” Davis said. “My understanding is the intent of the meeting is to discuss ways of improving communication between the various departments and, of course, we are always in favor of that.”
Davis stated he hopes the session does not “devolve” into a question-and-answer period on what occurred in the Dylan Groves’ case. He said commissioners still have questions as to what happened to Dylan, some of which have been answered but many of which have not.
“We are very concerned about the policies and procedures being followed or not being followed within children services,” Davis added.
As what he called a side note, Davis said children services board members confirmed they only recently received copies of the guidelines and policies used by the organization. He openly questioned how the board could govern without knowing the rules.
In previous comments to the Times, Oliver said much of the criticism of children services is coming from an understandable place of emotion, instead of reflecting the facts of what occurred.
“The bottom line is we had the death of the baby,” Oliver said. “Nobody likes that… But they’re pointing fingers at children services and that’s unfair.”
Oliver added the public does not seem to have a good grasp of what children services is capable of doing. Oliver noted he has served on the board for many years.
“We’ve never had any issues,” he added.
The Daily Times will follow up on Wednesday’s meeting as much as possible.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.